Harkin's return a boost for Harps

Ollie Horgan's side meet Shamrock Rovers on Friday night

Gareth Harkin knew something wasn’t right after coming off worst in a 50/50 challenge during Finn Harps’ match at Longford Town back in June.

The game was only 15 minutes old when the Harps midfielder went in for a block tackle on his opponent.

“I felt it sore and very quickly the knee just went numb,” he recalls.

“I knew straight away that something wasn’t right.”

Harkin was replaced by Raymond Foy and while Harps secured a crucial 2-0 win, the Letterkenny man spent the weekend hoping that the soreness would soon start to ease.

“On Monday I got the bad news,” he said.

A medial ligament injury meant at least eight weeks on the sidelines. During the early period of his recovery he spent time in a knee brace. However, almost two months later, and after plenty of treatment from physios Mickey McGlynn and Colm O’Neill, Harkin is ready to return to action.

“The recovery has gone well,” he said. “It’s hard being out. And there were a few set-backs along the way. At the time they said I’d be out for eight weeks. I think it’s about nine or ten weeks now, but I’m ready to go.”

Harkin resumed training a couple of weeks ago and while he’s now available for selection again, he knows he might have to bide his time.

“There are plenty of other midfielders at Finn Park and there’s enough quality in there,” he pointed out.

At 28, Harkin is one of the more experienced players in Ollie Horgan’s squad and agreed that he was enjoying a good run of form prior to his injury.

“Yeh, that’s the thing about it,” he said. “We beat Sligo Rovers at Finn Park 3-0 and then we had the break.

“Our first game back was against Longford and that’s when I got injured, so it was a bit frustrating.”

He has watched from the sidelines as Harps followed up that win with a home victory against Galway. But since then, they’ve lost four on the bounce, the latest defeat coming at home to Derry.

Shamrock Rovers

Tomorrow night’s match against Shamrock Rovers marks the start of another important run of games for Harps with four out of the next five league games at Finn Park.

“The Derry defeat was a hard one to take,” he said.

“But hopefully we can start picking up some points again soon. There’s a fair bit to go in the season yet and some important games coming up, starting with Shamrock Rovers on Friday night.”

Harkin is likely to be included in the squad, but may have to take his place among the substitutes as Harps plot the downfall of a Shamrock Rovers team who sit fourth in the table.

Ruairí Keating, who missed the defeat against Derry through suspension, is available again.

Kick off is at 8pm.